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Senior Gavin Middendorf moves the ball upfield against Cambridge-Isanti. Middendorf had a goal against the Bluejackets and also scored in the loss to Mounds View.

Forest Lake shuts out section rival Cambridge-Isanti

The Forest Lake boys soccer team finally got its complete team on the field in a home match against Cambridge-Isanti on Saturday, Sept. 18.

And it is not a coincidence that the result was a 3-0 victory over the Bluejackets, the team’s first win of the season.

“This was our first match with what I would consider our starting 11,” coach Joe Tomas said. “That felt good, although [senior goalkeeper] Terek [Tomas] is still limping around a little bit. But the team just plays better in front of him, so it was good to have him out there.”

Junior James Oberholtzer got the Rangers on the board with a first-half goal, then scored again midway through the second period. Senior Gavin Middendorf then turned a fine crossing pass by senior Brandon Larson into a goal that closed the scoring with just 2:30 left to play.

Terek Tomas started in goal and made seven saves in 64 minutes before he was replaced by sophomore Payton Grulkowski, who was not challenged with a shot in closing out the shutout.

While the three goals surpassed the two goals Forest Lake had scored in its previous six losses, coach Tomas saw room for improvement.

“The way we moved the ball was nice, but I didn’t think the way we finished was that great,” he said, noting that his team failed to convert on several good scoring chances. “I was happy with the possession, but I think we could do better with our finishing.

“I think we could have scored more, but I was happy with the win – I’ll take it. We needed the win.”

The biggest benefit of the win, besides giving several injured players a chance to return to the lineup, was the benefits it should provide once section pairings are announced.

“I hope this match sets us up for sections,” Coach Tomas said. “I would hope that, with a head-to-head win, we would at least be the seventh seed, and avoid the eighth seed – and a probable match against Duluth East.

“I think Blaine, Centennial and Andover are the teams that probably will be second and third seeds. I would take my chances against one of them rather than having to face Duluth.”

Forest Lake began the week with two lopsided losses in Suburban East Conference play. The Rangers lost at home to Mounds View by a 6-1 margin on Monday, Sept. 13, with Middendorf notching the lone goal while three goalkeepers combined to make 17 saves.

Two nights later the Rangers lost 5-0 at East Ridge despite 19 saves by junior Brandon Nesseth, who normally plays in the midfield.

This week began with a home contest against Irondale on Tuesday, Sept. 21, that was not completed at press time. Forest Lake will hit the road for a match at Stillwater on Thursday, Sept. 23, then play at Coon Rapids two days later.

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